Christmas comes on December 25th every year, without fail. Therefore, the expenses that come along with the holiday season really shouldn’t surprise anyone; they should be planned for.
Planning doesn’t have to start in December though. You can plan all year long for the holidays. All you have to do is pay attention and plan a little, and you will be all set.
Pay attention? Yes! Listen to the people you usually buy for and plan your purchases all year long. Coupons/advertisements come out year round for just about every store. If it is July and your best friend talks about how much they just loved the show ‘X Files’, make a note of it, and buy the DVD when it goes on sale.
Another thing I like to do is keep my eye open when I am on vacation for something unique that someone might enjoy. Do you have a sister that loves unique jewelry? Then always peruse the shops and displays when you are at a distant locale to pick up something that cannot be found anywhere else, and is also hopefully at an affordable price.
I will admit though, I quite often still have a substantial amount of shopping to do come December. My kids are older now, and if they want something during the year, they quite often save up for it and buy it themselves. Therefore, so I can’t really store things up for them like I used to. I have two methods to cover my December shopping expenses:
- I put my change for the entire year into a jar. In December, I cash all that change in at a Coinstar machine, and get an Amazon Card in return. This change almost always covers the expenses for buying presents for my out-of-state relatives, and I don’t feel an ounce of pain over it. (Coinstar pays the full amount your change is worth if it is used for gift cards. Don’t ever use Coinstar for cash.)
- I use my American Express Blue Cash rewards money for presents. I don’t know if it is by luck or if American Express plans it this way, but my cash reward for the year is issued with the December 28th statement. This cash is a direct credit on my bill. Since I pay my bill in full every month and do not have an annual fee, this is just free money for me, and it generally covers the rest of my Christmas spending. I absolutely love that credit card.
As a side note, I don’t make a purchase if it is not on sale or I don’t have a coupon, but that is just a given.
So how do you plan for Holiday expenses? Do you cringe when you open your credit card statement and want to cry? Or, do you have a separate savings fund set aside to cover it?